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Learning from support workers: Can a dramatherapy group offer a community provision to support changes in care for people with learning disabilities and mental health difficulties?

Lookup NU author(s): Jane Bourne, Matthew Selman, Dr Simon Hackett


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© 2020 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Dramatherapy groups are being used to help people with learning disabilities move from hospital back to their homes. The staff who support people to attend the groups talked about their experiences. The staff felt the groups help people stay well, build friendships and get support quickly if needed. The staff felt that the groups were helpful for themselves too as they felt supported and learned new skills. Abstract: Background The UK Government's Transforming Care Agenda for people with learning disabilities has struggled to meet its goals of reducing inpatient beds and building community-based support. This article reports on the experiences of support staff who attended dramatherapy groups developed to assist transitions from an inpatient hospital and to prevent re-admissions through post-discharge support. The groups provide ongoing support and a place where relationships can be developed between supporter and those supported. Materials and Methods A focus group with a purposive sample of paid support staff. The data was synthesised using a thematic framework approach. Results Themes include: (a) new way of supporting and (b) hospital connection. The groups helped improve social interaction, friendship building, communication and self-confidence. Additional benefits include the pooling of support and a connection with professionals that enables difficulties to be caught early. Conclusions Support workers valued these dramatherapy groups, recognising how the intervention enabled people with learning disabilities to develop relationships and provide easy access to mental health professionals. Support staff also found benefits for themselves which included shared support and an increased understanding and insight into the people they support.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Bourne J, Selman M, Hackett S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: British Journal of Learning Disabilities

Year: 2020

Volume: 48

Issue: 1

Pages: 59-68

Print publication date: 01/03/2020

Online publication date: 10/01/2020

Acceptance date: 19/12/2019

ISSN (print): 1354-4187

ISSN (electronic): 1468-3156

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons Ltd


DOI: 10.1111/bld.12312


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